We Must Rein in Public Health Agencies Before Next Pandemic

Our global ruling class wants us to believe a Disease X pandemic is on the way. However, before our next pandemic, our leaders must learn something from the terribly managed last one.

To facilitate this, Scott Atlas, a former White House Coronavirus Task Force member, Philip G. Kerpen from the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, Casey B. Mulligan, a University of Chicago economics professor, and Steve H. Hanke from the Johns Hopkins University for Applied Economics published a report that documents what they view as the most significant lessons from Covid-19.

Throughout the report, which the Committee published to Unleash Prosperity, Atlas and his co-authors revisit several of the pandemic’s most significant controversies, reiterating critiques others have made prior, with some added data that shows the arguments are still valid or possibly even a bit stronger than a year ago.

There was never any solid evidence supporting masks or lockdowns. Orders to stay at home put adults of working age out of work, sick people out of hospitals, and students out of school. 

Paying workers to not work kept them out of work much longer than they otherwise would have been. Even after it was understood That COVID-19 posed little threat to children, teacher unions kept them from returning to classrooms. Patients with cancer fail to receive needed medical care because of prohibitions on “elective” procedures or fear they might catch the virus.

All but one forgotten point of contention that Atlas and his colleagues want us to remember is crucial moving forward. That point is that for several months — two years in some places — unelected public health bureaucrats and members of the executive branch ruled with almost absolute authority. This never should have happened and shouldn’t be allowed to happen again.

“From the very start of Covid,” Atlas and his colleagues explained, “politicians assigned unprecedented powers to public health agencies — many of which imposed strict limits on Americans’ basic civil liberties.”

“There was very little oversight or limitation on the powers conferred to these agencies,” added the colleagues. “Granting public health agencies these extraordinary powers was a major error.”

To avoid a repeat of similar mistakes in the future, Atlas and his co-authors “recommend that Congress and the states define by law ‘public health emergency’ with strict limitations on powers conferred to the executives,” along with reining in powers indirectly or directly by those in senior health agency positions like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins, the former directors of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Institute of Health respectively.

“Crises are when checks and balances and well-functioning institutions are most needed — not when they should be discarded, and decision-making outsourced to an alleged expert like Francis Collins, who casually confessed to a completely incorrect decision calculus years later,” wrote Atlas and his co-authors, referencing Collins’ 2023 acknowledgment of the disregard he and other “experts” had for the collateral damage done by the policies they championed.

“Limiting health agency power is a way to begin holding elected officials accountable to the citizens, rather than allowing the pretense of hiding behind those agencies,” they noted.

To prevent agencies along with their senior bureaucrats from wielding power again, Atlas and his colleagues advise: “Congress and the states should establish term limits (e.g., six years) for all senior health agency positions” and “restate definitively that the CDC and other health agencies are strictly advisory and do not have the power to set laws or mandates.”